Above all, Hadid’s film is one that urges contemplation, and through the director’s cinematic approach, viewers are provided ample opportunity to reflect on, and engage with the panoply of emotions sumptuously and evocatively portrayed on screen. Perhaps most moving are the film’s final scenes that take place within and outside a Baghdad morgue, which Zakaria visits in the faint hope of at least being able to identify his brother’s corpse, should it be there. Aside from the washing of blood, the echoes of footsteps, and intermittent recitations of the Koran, nothing else is to be heard. On the floor of the morgue, corpses lie scattered under pink sheets; the chilling bird’s-eye-view shot of the scene helps one realise, to a small degree, the number of lives claimed by the most recent Iraq war, and their concealment serves as a poignant reference to the anonymous fashion in which the victims of this war are often portrayed: that is, not as individuals, but as bodies and statistics. As he stands hopelessly outside the morgue under a relentless sun, his coarse linen shirt soaked to the core, an incessant throng of black, shapeless figures brush past him, eerily evoking the imagery and feel of Shirin Neshat’s film, Women Without Men, as well as her Women of Allah series of photographs. Yet again, the angel of history alights with mouth agape and wings akimbo, looking in horror at the past: The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward.
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